Colorado Companies to Watch 2021: The Makers & Suppliers
These companies are changing the way that products are made
When an industry has years of set guidelines, it is often difficult to continuously innovate and engineer new ideas. However, when innovation is the largest driving factor for continued success, like it is for DALYTE, competitors are hard-pressed to keep up. DALYTE’s unique architectural and structural expertise in the daylighting industry allows for output that only a minimal group of competitors can replicate.
Recent projects include a new Human Services building in Wisconsin that included over 50 skylights and 30- by 50-foot ellipse. DALYTE’s ability to tackle large and unconventional projects makes it a go-to company for customers looking to evolve their daylighting resources. “We disrupt the daylighting industry through innovation and being able to design, build and install skylights that most competitors simply cannot build, and we will continue to innovate the way skylights are designed and built,” DALYTE President Patrick McFarlen said.
Promoting a culture that operates from the top down, DALYTE’s management team looks to reflect the qualities of trust, commitment and accountability in order to empower employees to do the same.
When a company invests in perfecting its process, it shows a willingness to adapt and nurture a culture of growth. When Banner Signs and Decals (BSD) implemented a technology that allowed clients to track their project during the development process, it also enabled the company to identify inefficiencies within its workflow. More than that, the company also heavily invests in educating its employees through an incentive-based program that cross trains its workforce on all aspects of the company’s operations. By investing in employees, BSD actively showcases its core company values of quality, teamwork, commitment, innovation and passion.
Specializing in the markets of education and restaurants, BSD has used experiences gained from working with Denver Public Schools (DPS) and Chipotle to entice new customers like Regis University and Parry’s Pizza and has seen a 10% increase in revenue as a result.
BSD’s focus on promoting growth extends far beyond the company, as multiple community outreach programs have become mainstays in the company ethos. Working with Denver Public Schools, BSD has established two $1,000 scholarships to be awarded to two DPS students.
Identifying a need is important, but providing the solution is the true measure of success. When that need is pharmaceutical drugs specifically developed for children, the importance is often lifesaving.
STAQ Pharma partnered with the Children’s Hospital of Colorado to help identify numerous products that could help support various children’s hospitals across the country. To do this, STAQ Pharma revised the pharmaceutical manufacturing process in three steps: build compounding facilities as manufacturers first, not pharmacies; increasingly automate various steps along the production process; and develop drugs via a process that directly serves the less-considered paediatric population. Hiring a diverse and adaptable workforce at STAQ Pharma has been a catalyst for ideas like this, as the company firmly believes that boasting a wide range of viewpoints creates a culture that is more conducive to creating solutions.
This innovative shift in the development process has earned STAQ Pharma a favorable position in the eyes of the FDA. “Our engagement with the FDA and the need for automation has driven the peers in our industry to place orders for similar automation equipment,” a company spokesperson said. “The long-term effect of this will be improved patient safety across the industry.”
When Soulvation started as Leah Krabbenhoft’s $300 investment in fabric, shipping supplies and a website in 2019 to sell workout-inspired headbands, it would have been hard to imagine that the company would evolve into a brand that brought in $1.8 million in sales in 2020. Even more impressive is that Krabbenhoft has required zero investors and has taken on zero debt to get this far. Soulvation’s hair accessories have received mass acclaim for their style and comfort. Since its Hair Tie Bracelets hit the market, they have sold over 20,000 units. One of the company’s largest clientele demographics are nurses, and when Krabbenhoft learned of this, Soulvation donated 5,000 butter-soft headbands to Sanford Health in her hometown of Fargo, North Dakota.
Continuing its upward trend, Soulvation has begun to experiment with apparel options such as its new compressive tank tops. Soulvation has been featured in Forbes and is a semi-finalist in the upcoming “Shark Tank” season.
“Patient-centric innovation is of the utmost importance when creating new devices and products in today’s world,” a SmartTab spokesperson said. Prioritizing the needs of patients is SmartTab’s way of advancing new technology, and it allows the company to promote a patient-first culture. The wireless nature of its technology allows SmartTab to re-engineer the way drugs are delivered. “Innovation at SmartTab is the confluence of wireless technology and pharmaceutical drug delivery. We’re advancing drug delivery technology into the 21st century for precision medicines to personalize treatments and improve outcomes.”
SmartTab has produced three variations of its product: the TargetTab, InjectTab and the MultiTab. The TargetTab was created for targeted delivery of colon-related drugs, while the InjectTab was created to help inject capsules for larger molecules, essentially looking to make needles irrelevant. The MultiTab is the company’s most ambitious project and will begin with pre-clinical animal studies in 2022 in hopes of creating a multi-compartment capsule that can live in the stomach and release active ingredients over a given timeline. These ground-breaking technologies have the potential to completely revolutionize how we monitor and intake drugs of the future.
Black Swift Technologies has overcome multiple financial hurdles to get where it is today. Once consisting of just three full-time employees, Black Swift Technologies has surged from its initial underdog status to become a leader in highly accurate unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) capable of flying scientific payloads in extremely difficult environments. Focusing on purpose-built aircraft, Black Swift Technologies aircraft are used across the world to carry out research missions that include monitoring and assessing wildland fires, volcanoes, tornados and hurricanes.
The bold nature of the company’s technology is reflected in the company’s employees. Ski passes are available to every employee, and you’ll often find these adventurers on the mountain carrying out an enviable work-life balance. Outside of their employees, Black Swift Technologies also focuses on enhancing the educational opportunities for the next generation of STEM students. Partnering with the St. Vrain Valley Innovation Center, Black Swift Technologies has donated numerous resources in order to teach students about UAS.
“Our ability to continue to innovate at a rapid pace – we’re even working on an aircraft design for a NASA project to fly on Venus – has positioned us to be major players as the unmanned aircraft industry continues to evolve,” CEO Jack Elston said.
Emerging from the incubator that is CU Boulder, Double Helix Optics has taken the world by storm in the nano-scale 3D imaging and sensing sector. Its SPINDLE nano imaging module is an affordable, easy to use accessory that can bolster a microscope’s ability to produce super-resolution imaging and tracking. That is what first set Double Helix apart from its competitors. This product earned the PRISM award, fondly known as the Oscar of Optics, and gave Double Helix Optics first place honors in the Luminate competition, “the only international competition for optics, photonics and imaging startups,” according to the company. Alongside these awards, DHO also earned a nice $1 million investment that has only helped the company’s upward trend.
With 21 patents, the technology for applications covering life sciences, industrial inspection and machine vision. The SPINDLE2, the second generation of the original product, now allows multi-color and multi- modal imaging, which continues to open new doors for what this technology can discover. Despite all these gains, its product is still priced below that of competitors in order to make scientific breakthroughs as frequent and attainable as possible.
Amanda Gordon broke through years of societal barriers when she became the first Black female to get her auto dealer’s license in the state of Colorado. While most automotive dealerships tend to shield customers from their process, GoJo Auto prides itself on the transparency it provides to customers.
Gordon attributes this to the company’s incorporation of social media as an advertising platform, an approach that has gone untapped by auto dealers for years. Still, customer referrals remain king when it comes to GoJo Auto’s biggest ally. Some 65% of business is referral-based, reflecting the welcoming atmosphere GoJo Auto has created.
Part of the trust GoJo Auto has garnered in the community lies in how much the company gives back to its community. The company is a lifetime member of the Denver NAACP, and Gordon serves on the board for the economic development committee in an effort to raise awareness and support for Black business.
When you begin by selling your products at farmer’s markets, getting your name known in your community is one of the largest keys to local marketing. Seeing your products in the gift bags at the Oscars takes community recognition to a national level. For Green Goo, being a company so rooted in family has allowed its ascent to the national spotlight to be grounded in core values that keep their company honest and committed to providing quality, plant-based skin and health care products. It’s not often that three generations of the same family work together, but clearly when they do, good things can happen.
The team at Green Goo wants customers to understand that plant-based medicine is often an equal, if not better, alternative to what the public views as traditional medicine and wellness products.
“Specifically in the first-aid category, we have historically accepted that only chemical-rich over-the- counter products could be effective enough to heal our poison ivy or chronic eczema,” CEO and co-founder Jodi Scott said. “We wanted to prove that plant-based alternatives could not only perform better, but offer additional health and wellness benefits.”
In order to make your dream come true, sometimes you have to couch surf with your baby and pets, and that is exactly what Erica and Jason Feucht did in order to bring to life Pit Liquor, a new and healthy take on deodorant. While other companies use ingredients derived in a lab, Pit Liquor is special because all ingredients are active and are made in-house. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the process is that the main ingredients that whisk away the stench are over proofed vodka and whisky.
The product is already being well received in Colorado and has created a base of loyal customers. Erica Feucht hopes this will help them corner a niche market and eventually land larger distributors as they continue to replace toxic deodorant ingredients. “Our way to mainstream is to hit the niche area hard and take up the space we belong to,” Erica Feuct said. “Then, we’re going to find our way onto shelves when the world is ready for a mainstream sweep.”
Sustainability is an important factor in the Feuchts’ process. Their sustainability program includes refillable bottles that last a year and glass packaging that curtails the use of plastics.
ROXBOX truly arose from a dirt lot to where it is today. But when you have a product that works, humble origins don’t matter as ROXBOX quickly moved into a warehouse after taking on Adidas as a major client and has only continued its upward trend since receiving a major investment from the Denver Economic Development Office, which allowed ROXBOX to become one of the preeminent shipping container modification companies in the country.
“We’re constantly pushing the envelope on product designs and production methods to generate efficiencies in our process, which in turn help us stay ahead of our competitors,” a company spokesperson said. This ability to push the boundaries of technology and production can be seen in ROXBOX’s HELIOS product, a line of off-grid solar-powered containers that is not being produced anywhere else in the United States. This technology can be used to make containerized refrigerators and power generators, provide a hub for disaster relief, or even to hold and properly distribute vaccines in remote areas. This has allowed ROXBOX to begin to tap into new markets such as governmental, agricultural and medicinal.
Starting as a T-shirt printing company in 2004, Printfection pivoted and became a full-blown swag management platform and moved from a B2C company to B2B. Explosive growth ensued shortly thereafter. Swag supply companies often do ample business with the event industry. So, when COVID-19 all but decimated events of all kinds, it could have been argued that those printing all the event-related material were not far behind. However, Printfection was able to capitalize on its Giveaway feature, a way for companies to send swag to their employees and customers who were now at home, during a time when all other opportunities were shutting down. “As a result, we weathered the storm amazingly and are now in the position to double the size of the company,” a company spokesperson said. Pairing this with the fact that Printfection was entirely remote prior to the pandemic, it is safe to say it is positioned to succeed for the foreseeable future.
Although the swag supply business has been a fairly stagnant industry, Printfection makes it a mission to continuously use technology to modernize and update its platform. Whether it is eliminating needless email chains or constantly updating its item catalogue, Printfection maintains ties to customers with fresh ideas. When they have an excess of items, the company uses their product as an opportunity to give back by donating it to homeless shelters.